CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) -- Paul Pierce and Antonie Walker had huge
grins on their faces as they slapped hands. For the first time
since 1999, the Boston Celtics left Charlotte with a victory.
Paul Pierce led Boston with 30 points on Saturday.
Pierce scored 30 points and the Celtics made 10 3-pointers
Saturday night in a 106-97 win over Charlotte that snapped their
seven-game losing streak to the Hornets.
"It's a huge win for us, we've struggled against Charlotte in
the past," said Walker. "To come in here and get a win when they
are starting to play better, it feels really good for us."
Six players scored in double figures for Boston, which has won
nine of 10 games and beat Charlotte for the first time since March
"We've always played them close, but we've never been able to
pull them out," said Kenny Anderson, in his fourth full year with
the Celtics. "To do so know shows how we've improved our defense,
how we are out-hustling teams and doing the little things to get
Erick Strickland was 3-for-3 from 3-point range and pulled down
two defensive rebounds in the final minutes to seal the win.
"Strickland had a super night and you don't expect that," said
Charlotte coach Paul Silas. "When he made those 3s, that was the
David Wesley scored 15 of his 24 points in the fourth quarter to
pull the Hornets, who had trailed by double digits most of the
game, back into it.
The Celtics led 84-74 at the start of the fourth when Wesley got
hot. With leading scorer Baron Davis on the bench with five fouls,
he hit consecutive 3-pointers to cut Boston's lead to 90-83.
He later scored eight straight points, hitting three jumpers and
two free throws, to cut the deficit to 98-95 with 4:09 to play, the
closest the Hornets would get.
Davis checked back into the game at that point, taking and
missing the next Charlotte shot before passing off to Elden
Campbell on the next possession for a missed layup. Wesley then
seemed to fall out of rhythm, taking just two more shots the rest
of the game -- missing a pair of 3-point attempts.
"I felt good, my rhythm felt good, they just didn't fall,"
Wesley said. "It's very disappointing because we had a chance and
we just did not come out to play until it was too late."
Potapenko scored on a putback with 1:32 to play to pad Boston's
lead to 100-95, and the Celtics made six free throws in the waning
Davis scored 18 for Charlotte and Lee Nailon added 15 before
leaving the game early in the fourth quarter with a bruised right
Davis, who shot 7-for-19 for the game and missed four free
throws, sat dejected in the locker room after the game blaming
himself for Charlotte missing its chance to move above .500. The
Hornets dropped to 11-12.
"We were there and just lost our concentration down the
stretch," Davis said. "My play certainly didn't help, that's why
The Hornets held a 56-55 lead early in the third quarter when
Boston tightened its defense and broke open the game with an 18-6
Walker hit a 6-foot jumper, Johnson hit a 3 and a layup and
Pierce capped Boston's 10-0 spurt with a 3-pointer. Strickland
added another 3 in the run that gave the Celtics a 73-62 lead with
4:59 to play in the third.
The Celtics then pushed it to 82-68, their largest lead of the
game, on Strickland's 3 with 1:57 left. The Hornets cut into it
with a 3 from Davis and three free throws by Matt Bullard, but
still trailed by 10 heading into the fourth quarter.
Game notes The Celtics' season-high for 3-pointers in a game is 17.
... Nailon is averging 15.4 points in the 14 games he's started in
place of injured Jamal Mashburn. ... Davis had just seven assists,
snapping his streak of 10 or more at six games. ... The main
scoreboards in the Coliseum were out for much of the first half,
marking at least the third time this season they failed to work
properly. ... Josh Staley of Wilkesboro, N.C., hit a half-court
shot at halftime to win $10,000, a purse that was split with the
other seven finalists in the competition.